If I had a dollar for every time over the past few weeks that I’ve heard someone say, “Flying is a privilege, not a right,” I would have no need to think about my current employment status at all (I’m currently on a leave of absence from the airline). Let’s examine this little – and, I’m sorry, but I do mean little – thought pattern for a moment, shall we?
The following is my response, cleaned up a bit for public consumption, to a coworker (that’s right, a fellow airline pilot who makes his living the same way I do) who said:
I do not think that flying on an airplane is an unalienable or natural right.
Then what is it? And who legitimately owns and grants the rights to it? Whoever they might be, what gives them this exclusive power over we the people who are the authentic governing authority in this country? In other words, how did they come by this power? It could only be through our consent, right? And, if it is our consent that endows them, then wouldn’t that mean that it is we the people who legitimately own and grant the rights to it? And, having established that no other human agency gave us that ownership and power, how is it not a natural right?
Then the follow up to that is: what real benefit do we derive by transferring our power over to politicians and bureaucrats who, rather than producing goods or services that contribute to the basic needs, welfare, or comfort of ordinary people, instead make their living by siphoning the productivity of others off the market to build their own houses and communities (complete with gates to keep us productive types off their lawns)? Oh, that’s right – we benefit because they, being our betters and the creme de la creme of society, are watching over us, keeping us safe and secure, delivering us from evil, etc. since we cannot possibly take care of ourselves even though we are the ones who gave them the power to take care of us BECAUSE IT WAS OURS TO GIVE.
The Wright Bros. were just two guys with two brains and a dream who innovated something of genuine value to all humankind. They didn’t have to file any permits, and nobody granted them the privilege of tinkering around in their shop or buzzing around over the ground. But like all new innovative enterprises, early flight was sloppy and dangerous. Although the best minds and technicians available were already giving their all to making it better and especially safer, it only took a couple mishaps to open the door for the state to step in and take over.
It’s a pattern that has repeated throughout history. Things happen that we can’t completely control. So we seek a higher power to take control. If we’re not happy with what we find, we make our own higher power – only it doesn’t have any power at all except what we give it, reducing our own power in the process. Now we’ve created ourselves a monster to tell us what to do, and we take comfort in knowing that all those big, scary things out there are being handled by the all wise, all knowing thing we created in our own image to save us.
But, as it grows, its appetite grows too. Now we’re spending more and more of our time and labor feeding it. And, when even that’s no longer enough, it starts to feed directly on us! That’s why, for example, funds from the Recovery Act (your productivity) are being used to stimulate the economy by purchasing really expensive, dangerous machines and hire droves of blue-shirted minions to abuse you when you come to work or wish to exercise your privilege of moving around like the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, or the fish of the sea. You have erected and empowered and served this thing, crying out to it for help and deliverance, and now that it is turning around and eating you alive, you still come to its defense and justify its sovereign right to exploit, enslave, and abuse you.
How are driving, walking, or sitting in your den drinking beer and scratching your [self] any different from flying – or are those also privileges, and not rights? Will you still defend the state even when they’re dictating those aspects of your life as well? Oh wait, maybe they already are…
So, what do you all say? Among our Creator-endowed, unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where does the modern blessing of human flight fit – or does it?